Float Mount Techniques Advice


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Aug 10, 2005
I have an image to be printed on cotton rag paper with cut edges that I'd like to deckle the edges and float mount. I'd like some advice on technique.

First, deckling the edges. I've heard you should wet the edges with water and tear them. Any practical advice? I'm assuming there's a minimum width to what you're tearing off.

Once the edges are deckled, my understanding is that the hinges will go through slits in the backboard. How close to the top of the artwork should the hinges be placed? I'd guess 80% of the height of the artwork. Sound reasonable? What's the best technique for assuring the hinges will cause the artwork to hang straight? A pencil line on the back of the artwork, or is that problematic? Are there any glaring omissions in the questions I'm asking?

Any pointers to relevant instruction would be appreciated.
There are probably as many theories on getting a torn edge as there are framers and/or kinds of paper. I don't wet the paper (seems a bit dangerous when dealing with ink-jet output). Back in printmaking school I was taught to tear the paper against a fresh cut piece of glass. Sometimes the glass is under the paper, and you push down, other times the glass is on top and you pull up. Try different ways until you get the effect you are seeking. One guy at art school used the blade of a crosscut hand saw.

Pass through hinges can be put as close to the top of the paper as you choose. Again, there will be differences in approach with the variances in paper size and weight. I generally hinge about every 12 inches along the top and a few inches up from the bottom on the side. If the piece is tall, I might put more hinges along the side. The side hinges can be a bit loose to accommodate contraction and expansion.
I heard some interesting thoughts on hinging at the Grumble dinner in Atlanta which may change the way I hinge. Will have to wait on the follow-up to the conversation to know if what I think I heard is really what they said. (It was a good dinner).
When I think of deckled edges I think of the unfinished edge from homemade papers, but be that as it may, I was shown that to get a good fairly controlled torn edge you first fold the paper and then slightly dampen the folded edge, ie with a sponge but more likely with spittle, then fold the paper and repeat. This should weaken the paper then you can tear it nicely.
There are some other techniques...

as you tear the paper by hand if you tear some by pulling paper toward you and then some by pulling the paper away from you - you get different types of tears.

Having been a rubber stamper the use of a thin brushed line of water helps the paper to fray rather than tear evenly... but with Ink jet - you can't be near the image area...

there are also metal rulers that have a deckle shape edge that you can tear against - but this works better with softer papers not hard papers...

Happy tearing!

A deckle is a mold used in paper making, and that is what creates the "deckle edge". The paper slurry -- wet cellulose fibers in a creamy-wet consistency -- taper to the edges of the mold. I think that in order to re-create a similar effect on machine-made paper it is helpful to understand how a "real" deckle edge happens.

The best technique I've seen for making an artificial deckle edge is to use a razor blade and lightly scrap away the fibers at the edges or the paper. Beginning about 1/4" in from the edge, scrape toward the paper's edge and taper the paper's thickness toward the edge until it becomes ragged. Then burnish the scrape-tapered edge to remove loose fibers and give the "deckle edge" an appearance similar to the face of the sheet.

The wet-tearing technique is OK, but less authentic-looking. And I would not recommend applying water to a digital print.
Two sorts of hinges should not be adhered too near
the edge of the sheet; those that will be passed
through the back mat and those that are applied to a deckled edge. The adhesion for hinges that will be passed through should stop rougthly 1/16" shy of the edge of the sheet, so that the slit will fall under the edge of the sheet and there will be no possibility of its becoming engaged with that edge. When the paper has a deckled edge, the attachment of the hinge should stop before the thinning associated with the deckle begins, to ensure that it is not pasted onto the thinned portion will not fold under as the hinge is turned or be pulled through the back mat, if a pass through technique is employed.

Check out the new hinging instruction sheet to go along with FrameTeks NORI hnging paste. its on the FrameTek web pages under the pull-down menu titled "Free Info".

This is quite different than any hinging instructions I've ever seen. Read the whole thing before you disagree.
Ok, so it sounds as if the hinges should be placed closer to the top edge than I would have thought. So should I mark a pencil line to ensure the hinges are aligned along the top edge of the artwork? And the side hinges- should they be pass through hinges as well?

Thanks for all of the replies.
Side hinges have little or no stress because they support no weight. They are loose and serve only to limit movement side-to-side. They may be pasted to the mount board under the art, or passed through to the back. I think Pass-through hinges are easier to install than those pasted under the art.
These issues are covered extensively at the
website: pictureframingmagazine.com. Go to
articles index, then preservation supplements,
and then hinging.

Wow- that's the sort of in depth information that I can really sink my teeth into. Thanks, Hugh.

One more question. What do you use for blotter paper, and how do you prevent the blotter paper from being pasted onto the hinge?
Preservation supply catalogues should have conservation quality blotter paper. The best
should not have optical brightners in it, but
that is a minor point. Since the blotters are used
in hand drying, they are only pressed briefly onto
the damp hinge and immediately removed. Blotters
used in weighting are only placed on hinges that
are virtually dry and no adhesion should take place.